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Spike in lepto cases

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Spike in lepto cases

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The Ministry of Health is alerting the public about a spike in leptospirosis cases, detected last month.  
According to Dr Karen Springer, Senior Medical Officer of Health, North, five people – two women and three men – contracted the severe bacterial infection in July, bringing the number of cases this year to 18. These included six hospitalizations but no deaths. During the period January to July 2011, 11 cases were confirmed.
Springer explained that the disease, which includes flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting, eye inflammation and muscle aches, could be contracted through contact with water, damp soil or vegetation contaminated with the urine of infected animals.
Bacteria can also enter the body through broken skin and contaminated food or water.  
The health practitioner cautioned that while rodents were the main carriers of leptospirosis in Barbados, the disease could also be transmitted by other animals which carry the leptospirosis organism, including pigs, horses, cattle and dogs.
Protective clothing, such as waterproof gloves and boots, should therefore be worn at all times when participating in outdoor work or recreational activities, such as gardening or construction, to avoid unintentional exposure to contaminated water.  
Last year there were 44 cases of leptospirosis, resulting in three deaths. (BGIS)